Some Ontario medical officers of health urge residents to wear masks amid sixth wave fears

Although the mask mandate for most public spaces in Ontario lifted March 21, some doctors are recommending people continue to cover up as cases of COVID-19 are on the rise.

This week Ontario is reporting some of the highest test positivity rates since the peak of the omicron wave in January. Hospitalizations are going up too.

It’s why Sandra Wilson keeps wearing her mask.

“I never take my mask off,” Wilson told CTV News Toronto on Thursday as she was getting ready to go shopping. “I think they were not thinking when they [told] you to take it off, because COVID is still here. It’s not going nowhere.”

Peterborough’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Thomas Piggott stated on Twitter earlier this week that masking needs to stay.

“There’s one intervention we all need to stick with for the time being: MASKING. That’s why I’m recommending it for all,” he wrote.

Durham’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Kyle said with transmission on the rise and the B.A. 2 variant appearing to be more transmissible — he recommends a mask to protect yourself and stop the spread. 

“As you heard from government and the chief medical officer of health a few weeks ago, we have to learn to live with COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean that we abandon masking, physical distance and so forth,” he said Thursday.

Kyle advised that if people want to protect themselves, they should wear a mask indoors when distancing isn’t possible and to consider their personal risk. Older people or those with a medical condition should wear one.

Kyle doesn’t think masks should be mandated in public again right now, but some do support it.

“I think so yeah, the cases are the rise and the masks should still be in place,” said Durham resident Amber Asif.

“Wearing a mask isn’t that inconvenient. I think just putting it back on for a little while longer so we can avoid the spread and the numbers rising again,” said Burt Hill.

Others said it was time for people to make personal choices when it comes to masking.

Role of fourth doses in protection against COVID-19

Still, many are looking to avoid an illness and some are wondering if a fourth shot would help.

“I don’t know enough about it yet. But if it’s necessary, I guess I’ll have to do it,” said 86-year-old Myrna McGregor.

“If they would be a little more clear about the research behind it, because through this whole pandemic we have had a lot of mixed messaging,” said Myong Patton, who is in her 60s.

Data so far is being gathered on the effectiveness of a fourth shot, or a “second booster.”

“It’s there, certainly a signal, but by no means a home run,” said Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch. “It’s probably still helpful for people who are most at risk.”

Although the Food and Drug Administration in the United States has expanded the use of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to allow healthy adults over 50 to get second boosters, Health Canada says the national advisory committee on immunization [NACI], is looking at the use of fourth doses in the elderly. That advice is expected to come out in early April.

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